Saturday, May 31, 2014

FY 2015 Costs

The House Appropriations Committee released their draft defense spending bill for 2015 and it contains some informative numbers.

Navy shipbuilding is budgeted $14.3B for 6 ships (type unspecified).  That’s an average of $2.4B each.  Further, assuming a lifespan of 35 years, procuring 6 ships per year equates to a 210 ship fleet.  That’s a far cry from the 300+ ship fleet that the Navy and the current administration would like us to believe is coming.  The numbers are what they are.  The fleet is steadily shrinking.

Everyone’s favorite, the F-35, is budgeted for $5.8B for 38 aircraft (versions unspecified).  For you JSF fanboys who seem unable to do the math, that’s $153M per aircraft.  Don’t you hate actual numbers when you’re trying to argue for something?  I know, I know, once we hit serial production the cost will drop to ten dollars each – heck, we may even make money on each one built!

The EA-18G Growler is budgeted at $975M for 12 aircraft which is $81M each.

These aren't final numbers, of course, but they are interesting.


  1. I really still do not fully understand why the Navy is sticking with their version of the F35. I know, I know. This IS the plane all three services want. Or is it?

    I still believe that procuring additional F18 Super Hornets and Growlers is what the Navy should be doing. They can still procure the F35 for the Marines, but isn't that plane having all sorts of problems still?

    If not that plane what if the Navy were to go back to the Harrier? What are their options? I mean to me, a very casual observer of the Navy and defense matters in particular, it would seem that with the tight budgets coming why not procure tried and true aircraft like the F18 and Harrier and hold off on the F35 until everything checks out?

    Does this not make sense? And one has to wonder what will happen if the US Senate goes Republican this fall? Does the F35 have enough supporters to gain additional funding or will smarter heads prevail?

    Same thing with the LCS. Yes we have a small surface combatant study group looking at options going forward. But I really feel that group is rigged towards an updated version of the LCS. And not a new frigate design or even the Huntington Ingalls proposal.

    Again, the Navy seems to be so short sighted. They had a proven ship in the Perry class. Why not go back in and restart that program? Surely the Navy could have beefed up the ship and added enough sensors and weapons to make it an affordable alternative to another upgraded LCS. I have seen where many have said that the Navy wants an upgraded LCS with more sensors (Aegis) and a better weapons suite. That will bring the cost up another what? 300 to 500 million dollars, making the new ship around or close to 1 billion dollars? Thats a lot of money for a small surface combatant.

    I have thought for a while that the Navy needs to leave the littorals to our allies. They have the ships necessary to patrol the littorals. Leave our Navy to deal with blue water issues.

    On the other hand besides a Perry class ship, another option I think would be to have a stripped down Burke minus the Aegis system. This type of Burke could still pack a punch with a 5" gun, at least 32 missiles and two helos. All the while reserving enough space to add another VLS system atop the hanger.

    Of course the Navy will never accept these options. Thats too bad.

    1. rey, welcome! Why is the Navy sticking with the F-35 program? Well, that's the question, isn't it. There are a lot of answers or, at least, partial answers. None are compelling, in my opinion.

      You seem to be suggesting that we procure current aircraft until the F-35 problems are worked out. While I agree, to an extent, the difficulty with that approach is that the problems have been worked on for two decades and we're nowhere near solving them. By the time another decade or so passes and we solve the problems the aircraft will be obsolete and we will have spent even more giant sums of money. A better approach might be to procure evolutionary versions of current aircraft, like the Advanced Super Hornet, while we work on the JSF technology in smaller pieces that can actually be achieved and incorporated into existing or new airframes. This is just a variant of what you propose.

      The problem with leaving the littorals to our allies is that the reason we have an interest in the littorals is because of amphibioius landings. Thus, leaving the littorals to our allies is not really an option if we want to maintain the option of landings. That said, there is a significant disconnect between our amphibioius desires and our actual capability. The disconnect renders our littoral interest highly suspect. If you're not sure what disconnect I'm referring to, check out the archive posts and you'll find multiple posts dealing with the subject.

      A stripped down Burke has been proposed and is a potential option although I suspect it prove too costly relative to its combat power. I do like that you specify that the version would not have Aegis although that leads to the obvious question about what its role would be?


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